Dr. Andrea Zittlau (Universität Rostock): "The Freakshow. Representations of Extraordinary Bodies in the 19th Century"

3.05.2012, 16:15 Uhr, U2/01.33

With the rise of the Disability Studies, extraordinary bodies were brought back to the academic stage where a special interest grew around the popular entertainment of the freakshow. Particularly en vogue in the late nineteenth century, the freakshow presented bodies that did not meet the category of the normal as parts of grotesque or fantastic narratives. Presented by Phineas Taylor Barnum or examined by Rudolf Virchow the performers met curious audiences everywhere and their bodies became important articulations of self, nation, science and eventually symbols of their time.

Andrea Zittlau works currently as a research assistant and lecturer at the department of North American Studies at the University of Rostock, Germany. She also coordinates the Graduate School "Cultural Encounters and Discourses of Scholarship" at the University of Rostock. She has recently finished her PhD thesis about the representation of cultures inside museums ("Packaging Culture. How Ethnographic Museums Challenge Their Past, Present, and Future"). Her latest project deals with disfigurement and emotion in American fiction of the 19th century.